The Meadville One Senior League American Legion Baseball team opened its season with a 5-0 win against Titusville at Eldred Glen on Wednesday.
Josh Merchbaker got the nod on the mound and was hot from the start. Through three innings, Merchbaker tallied five strikeouts and one walk.
Offensively, Meadville didn’t have much going until the bottom of the third — but then they got hot.
Merchbaker and Rocco Tartaglione had back-to-back doubles to deep center. Merchbaker scored on Tartaglione’s shot to the center field wall to get on the board. After a single and a walk, the bases were loaded with one out.
Owen Garvey singled on a fly ball to bring Tartaglione in and keep the pressure on Titusville. Titusville’s pitcher, Landon Baker, retired the next two batters to escape anymore harm.
“We hit the ball and had a couple big hits when we had to,” Meadville One head coach Tony Tartaglione said. “We had runners on base and it went well offensively. All around, it was a good first win.”
In the fourth, Meadville stayed hot at the plate. Ryan Young made it to first base after the Titusville catcher dropped a third strike. After a single and a passed ball, Young was on third and in scoring position.
Merchbaker singled on a fly ball to shallow left field to score Young and get on base. Tartaglione had an RBI single and Wyatt Barzak brought Merchbaker in on a grounder to second base.
After five innings, Meadville held a 5-0 lead.
In relief for Merchbaker, Caden Holeva delivered three innings on the mound. He allowed zero hits and struck five batters out to finish off Titusville.
“Merchbaker pitched well. Caden came in and pitched good too,” Tartaglione said. “The big thing was zero errors defensively, not that we had a lot of chances, but that’s one of the goals we wanted to clean up from high school.”
Merchbaker finished with six strikeouts and one walk. He allowed one hit.
“Merchbaker and Holeva both worked up in the count,” Tartaglione said. “I think for all but two batters they were ahead, which is good to keep your pitch count down. It was a good pitching effort.”
Leading the team at the plate, Merchbaker went 2-for-3 with two runs and one RBI. Tartaglione hit 2-for-4 with one run and two RBIs. Brighton Anderson hit a triple.
With the win, the team is 1-0. The roster is mostly unchanged from the Meadville Bulldogs high school roster in the spring.
“We lost one senior and one is still here,” Tartaglione said. “We picked up two Cochranton kids (Barzak and Merchbaker), one Maplewood kid (Stuart Hochstetler) and Tai Hopkins from Cathedral Prep. Everybody else is the high school team.”
Tartaglione believes the team should have a solid season.
“I think if we do things right we can make a deep run. We have tons of pitching and tons of sticks,” Tartaglione said. “We need to put it all together, but I’m excited to see where they’ll go.